The Scene: Week of April 21

April 20, 2014
Have a heart: ‘Flying nannies’ swoop in

Etihad Airways continued its support for medical services and research at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, unveiling a Cardiac Intensive Care room where patients with heart conditions and other cardiovascular ailments will be treated.

Based in the United Arab Emirates, Etihad has become more charitable in Washington since debuting daily nonstop flights from Dulles to Abu Dhabi last year. The airline also co-sponsored the hospital’s annual ball, which raises money for research and facility improvements.

Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States, and Ray Gammell, Etihad’s chief people and performance officer, attended the room’s opening on April 11. Also present were Kurt Newman, the medical center’s chief executive, and Fox News anchorman Bret Baier, who sits on the board of the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

But the event wasn’t all about formalities. Also on hand were Etihad’s “Flying Nannies,” the name given to cabin crew members with child-care training, who entertained young patients with games, magic tricks and face painting, according to a news release.

—Steven Overly

Tackling poverty: Investing for impact

The D.C.-based Hitachi Foundation last week announced a new initiative aimed at developing business solutions to help low-income Americans. The foundation is teaming up Village Capital of Atlanta and Investors’ Circle, two groups that target entrepreneurs trying to make an impact on social or environmental causes. The new initiative plans to select up to 15 socially minded entrepreneurs to go through a business accelerator program run by Village Capital. The best ideas are then eligible for investments from Village Capital, and Investors’ Circle. Nearly 80 business owners, investors and members of the philanthropy community attended the announcement at the National Press Club where the foundation introduced the initiative called, Solutions from Our Country’s Entrepreneurs (SOURCE). After a panel discussion, which included James Lee Sorenson, founder of the Salt Lake City, Utah-based James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center, attendees broke up into groups to address problems that business owners face when tackling issues that affect the poor. The Hitachi Foundation, which provides grants that develop business practices to create economic opportunity, gave $520,000 to kickstart the initiative.

—Vanessa Small

Justice for all: Lawyers celebrate

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) took a break from Capitol Hill April 9 to dine with about 100 lawyers who flocked to Washington for ABA Day, the annual lobbying event for the American Bar Association.

Held at the U.S. Institute of Peace, the dinner and awards ceremony honored Portman, Quigley and Leutkemeyer (and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who was not in attendance) for their work with the U.S. justice system.

One of the association’s lobbying priorities this year was funding for Legal Services Corp., the Georgetown-based nonprofit that distributes federal grants to legal aid groups providing civil legal services to the poor.

—Catherine Ho

Leading edge: We still got it

Northrop Grumman chairman and chief executive Wes Bush made a pitch last week for the innovation prowess of the defense industry, saying it is every bit as cutting edge as some of those Silicon Valley upstarts you might have heard about.

What is Northrop working on? asked Carlyle Group co-founder David M. Rubenstein, who interviewed Bush during a breakfast get-together of the Economic Club of Washington.

Bush said the company had recently successfully landed a robotic unmanned vehicle (don’t call it a drone, Bush warned) on the deck of an aircraft carrier. “You can see it on YouTube,” Bush said.

Rubenstein wanted to know if Bush, who earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ever wanted to be an astronaut.

“I think we all want to be an astronaut at some point,” Bush said.

The bookish Rubenstein, no fan of great heights, deadpanned: “I probably didn’t want to be an astronaut.”

—Dan Beyers

Workplace honors: And the winner is. . .

The Alliance for Workplace Excellence announced last week the winners of its annual awards that recognize employers who have built a strong office culture or offer exceptional benefits. The Cabin John-based organization has selected 66 employers this year to receive commendations for excellence in workplace or health and wellness programs, leadership on environmental issues, or commitment to diversity in the workplace. This year’s honorees include major local employers such as Adventist HealthCare and Booz Allen Hamilton; nonprofits such as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; and small businesses such as Marstel-Day and Cassaday & Co. The winners will be honored at an awards banquet in May at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

—Sarah Halzack

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